Storytelling and Symbolism

Pink Cabin Sunset

Pink Cabin Sunset

We got a Facebook notification from Dan this afternoon; he was about to be interviewed live on an Internet radio show/podcast called Ask Andrew Anything, This show appears on GYST [Getting Your Sh*t Together] Radio. This call-in talk radio show is the creation of the host, Andrew Thompson. Dan’s episode is called Storytelling and Symbolism. If you follow this link, you’ll find a recording of the show, photos of some of Dan’s artwork, links to some of the things that they talked about and the following synopsis:

Originally from Saint Louis, Ohio [Missouri] but currently living in Los Angeles, Axe uses model building techniques to create sculptures that become allegories for stories without providing context or explanation. Absurd narratives are developed through obsessive and calculated crafting with each process carefully considered and chosen for its historic and symbolic significance as much as its technical qualities.

This episode of Ask Andrew Anything runs an hour. The first half of the show was broadcasted live, while the second half was only available via podcast. The above link will stream both halves. We listened to most of it live, went for a bike ride and then listened to the second half after we returned home. Those of us who know Dan will not be surprised at his loquaciousness. It was interesting to hear about all of the thought that goes into his art. We enjoyed the show and you should check it out too. Here is a link to Dan’s website, where you can see more of his artwork and under the blog tab are entries on some of the topics that were discussed, like Kowloon, the walled city and the ballistic missile test.

Da News, the LA Edition

Dan has been texting us photos of his construction project. All of the wallboard is up now. There is still mudding, painting and doors to do, then it should be done. He plans on getting the doors from one of Habitat’s ReStore outlets. After he texted us the pictures, he sent us the following text:

I just landed a commission to build
a coffee table, a dining table and a matching bench!

Sometimes texting does not have the bandwidth necessary for meaningful communication, so I called Dan. I caught him waking back from lunch with Annie. They went their separate ways and I got to speak with Dan.

A friend’s mother, an investment banker commissioned the work. She just closed on a LA property that to her is an investment property. She lives out-of-town and will only use it while visiting LA. Dan got upfront money for materials. He plans on finishing this project by the end of November. Afterword, Dan has a gallery lined up to sell future product. The gallery will take a 40% cut, but also plans to jack up the price by 44%. So, Dan will actually realize a ~4% net raise.

With all of this going on, he is also helping his classmate and friend, Amanda. She also graduated last May from CalArts, in theatrical costume design. That’s right folks, Dan is cutting and sewing. He also plans on helping with costume design. By Dan’s estimation, Amanda is the most successful of all of his classmates. She recently participated in a movie project staring Natalie Portman and that hunky guy from the Twilight series, Taylor Lautner.

2012 CalArts Graduation

Dan graduated from CalArts last night, with a Master of Fine Arts. Years ago, he had declined to attend his BFA commencement at Webster, so this was his first commencement. It was unlike any commencement that I’ve ever gone to. It was quite the party, quite the wild party. I’ve included some random crowd shots to give the feel of the ceremony. Amanda, Dan’s friend, also graduated last night. The rest of the people pictured, just think of supporting cast. The bad boys and girls of the School of Art lived up to their rep. Condemned to walk last, they suffered an interminable three-hour wait. What took so long, was that each graduate was alloted ten seconds of audio sound track as they walked the stage. Most of the grads had music playing and some tracks were embarrassingly popular. Best sounds went to a south Asian man whose audio recording was a well-timed correction of the pronunciation of his alphabet soup name, “No Dean so-and-so, my name is pronounced, …” Anyway, let’s get back to those bad art students. After the last of them had walked, it was announced that a beloved teacher was retiring. Spontaneously, the entire graduating art school rushed the stage and risked its collapse, much to the consternation of security. It all turned out well though and afterwards food and drink was served.

Dan’s Work

The above object was exhibited and sold at the CalArts MFA Graduation Show Fundraiser. It was held this year at Suzanne Vielmetter Projects, which is a very notable commercial gallery in LA, it has a page for the show. Here is the gallery’s description of Dan’s work. His piece sold early and he might score another commission too.

Folkloric Faraday Cage (2012)
Bird Cage, kit-based model,
Thread, paint, steel, brass mesh
8” x 8” x 17”

This is actually Dan’s second show this year. His first and main show was his MFA Thesis Show that occurred last month. He is still waiting on pictures from this show, as am I, but in the meantime I’ll share the photos that are already up on the Calarts website. Dan had two pieces that were grouped under a rubric that I’ll not repeat here. After all, this blog is banned in Maplewood. There is no need to make things worse. Warning, explicit language is used.

“The Allegory for Irresistible Force Confronts the Metaphor of the Immovable Object” is the name of Dan’s first piece. It spans a room that is 100′ wide. It is constructed from wood, flocked vinyl, a rock from the beach that was trailered to LA, a nylon strap to hold the rock and 1000 squirrels. Dan and many of his friends worked many long hours making and paint those squirrels. The other piece, “Asterisms in Representation” is constructed from thread and LEDs. In case you were wondering, asterism comes from astronomy. It means a cluster of stars smaller than a constellation.

So what does Dan plan on doing with his 100′ long art work? He plans on cutting it up into one foot sections. Some sections will go as thank you gifts to his army of squirrel painters. The rest he plans on selling. I’ll keep you all posted on this and when more photographs become available, I’ll post those too. Dan has two or three more art shows for the summer. This is good news, but may also mean that he won’t have time to accompany us on our tour of California. We’ll just have to hang tight and wait to find out.